This month’s council agenda was again released late – with the council president choosing to have one meeting per month instead of the typical two (Agenda setting and regular meeting), it makes the time to review, research and discuss issues dramatically shorter. It also removes an opportunity for the public to hear, and participate in, public discussions and takes the time from agenda release to council vote down to 3 calendar days instead of 10.
As I have done previously, I am not going to summarize the entire agenda (which can be found here) – but instead point out resolutions/ordinances that I think residents may want to be aware of or those that may seem confusing.
R242-22 (Department of Finance) – Resolution authorizing and approving the redemption and/or defeasance of outstanding bonds and capital leases previously belonging to the PMUA. With the PMUA formally dissolved effective 6/30/22, the City assumed all their assets and liabilities. This resolution authorizes the city to resolve the bond and capital lease obligations using funds transferred to the city from PMUA upon the entity being dissolved. Based on the analysis presented to the council by the authorities prior accounting firm, there was enough cash available at the time of the dissolution to resolve those previously existing long and short-term debt obligations. It should be noted that the city was always ultimately responsible for the obligations of PMUA if the authority had ever defaulted on their debt. This resolution will pay off all the current debt obligations with available cash reserves.
R243-22 (Dept of Finance) – Imposes liens on 145 properties for water bills (due New Jersey American Water) that are more than 60 days delinquent. The total amount of the liens is $130,239 and the property owners all reside outside of the City of Plainfield.
R242-22 (Dept of Economic Development) –Resolution designating certain properties known as Block 713, Lots 1–5 as a non-condemnation redevelopment area. These properties include Park Hotel along 7th Street as well as the long dilapidated professional building on the corner of 7th and Park Ave, as well as the former Unitarian Church now known as the Plainfield Performing Arst Center. This designation will allow the Planning Board to complete a Redevelopment Plan (odds are good it is done already by the way) that will establish the permitted uses on the site(s) as well as the bulk standards (height, depth, parking, outdoor space, set-back from front, side and rear etc. Ultimately, these end up as developments that get tax deals commonly referred to as P.I.L.O.T.S (Payment In Lieu of Taxes).
Municipal Ordinances on First Reading
- Note – Ordinances, unlike resolutions, must have two public readings, in essence they must be voted on at two council meetings. If approved on second reading they go into effect after 20 days. When you hear after a vote “this ordinance has been approved on first reading, that means that it passed the first of two required votes”
MC2022-31 – This ordinance amends Chapter 7 Article 7 of the Vehicles and Traffic ordinance – specifically this amends it by ADDING a four-way stop at the intersection of Spooner and West 4th Street. Unfortunately, it also should include striping the intersections to prevent cars from parking too close to the corners and blocking the line of site for drivers to see oncoming traffic safely.
MC2022-32 –This ordinance is for the purposes of granting a tax exemption for properties at 1030-1108 Plainfield Avenue. This is the location of a previously approved school for children with special needs. This tax exemption is not to exempt the developers from paying taxes, it is a PILOT and establishes the payment in lieu of taxes that they will pay over the 30-year life of the agreement. PILOTS aren’t all the same but this one starts at 11% of Annual Gross Revenue and escalates to 15% by the 30th year, in 5-year sections. There are some other nuances to the fees in the last 10 years but those are essentially the terms of the proposed tax exemption.
MC2022-33 – Ordinance to adopt the redevelopment plan for the property located at 200-216 Garfield Avenue (Corner of East 2nd and Garfield). The redevelopment plan is for mixed use with retail/commercial on ground floor and apartments on floors 2-5 of the 5-story building. The bulk standards are of a little concern, with parking requirement of 1 space per dwelling unit being a potential issue in that area, as we are seeing in other area where new developments are being completed.
MC2022-34 – Ordinance to allow the City to purchase the property at 512-25 Watchung Avenue (also known as the YMCA building) for $5,180,000. Per the resolution “Whereas, the Mayor and City Council of the City of Plainfield have determined that the Property is necessary and suitable for use and redevelopment by the City of Plainfield into a mixed-use residential and commercial redevelopment;”
MC2022-34 – Ordinance to amend and supplement the municipal code (Chapter 17, Article’s IV & X) related to the “Historic Preservation Commission” and “Historic Preservation Controls”. Among other things this ordinance removes the Historic Preservation Commission (made up of residents) from a formal review of any development in an historic area that has to go to the Planning Board or Zoning Board as part of the process. In essence, if a developer must go to either of those boards for ultimate project approval, then they skip HPC and one of those boards will cover the elements related to Historic Preservation and will not need a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HPC. Neither of those boards, for good reason, is well versed in historic preservation elements. In addition, it removes the city itself from being required to obtain HPC approval for any project that is on city owned property, city street or right-of-way. They are literally removing the sentence in the ordinance that reads, in part, “It is recognized that the intent and purposes of this article would not be fully served if the City were to control the actions of others but fail to apply similar constraints to itself…..”